Asked on Oct 20, 2012

Can anyone identify these bugs?

UpStateCarol TLinda Green


These bugs have recently invaded our neighborhood. They are crawling all over our houses and our porches and finding their way inside our homes. At first I thought they were fireflies but they don't fly. The crawl. Up walls. Oh, and how can I get rid of them?
What are these bugs?
33 answers
  • Storywood Designs
    on Oct 20, 2012

    I don't have an answer for you but wish I did and am curious to see if someone does. Not the kind of houseguest you like to get!

  • I know @storywood designs, right? And they seem to crawl slowly but in fact move faster than you'd think ... and they just keep multiplying! Yuck!

  • Those are boxelder bugs. They tend to collect on the sunny side of homes on warmish days during cool fall and spring periods. They will not eat anything in your house... they eat boxelder, maple and ash seeds, mostly. They will collect and drown in a glass of water, if you like a non-toxic solution. You can also vacuum them up.

  • @brian campell, thanks so much for that information! Truly helpful. I did some additional research and found that they congregate en masse on box elder trees. My neighbor's home (trees included) was recently leveled and I think they used to live in a tree in her back yard. Now they've migrated across the street to hang on the light colored homes on the west side facing homes on the street ... mine included. I'm going to put a tupperware filled with water on the front porch and see if they "collect" ...

  • You are welcome, they may be able to get enough traction to crawl out of plastic containers. I think a glass container with vertical sides is best. I would only try to collect them inside the home... outside they will number in the thousands.

    on Oct 20, 2012

    Yep...boxelders...We had these in Michigan on our house that faced the sun...they don't bite or do much really. Really annoying though. Good luck!

  • @brian campell -- yikes, the thousands! My husband is now collecting the glass containers outside ... we'll stick with the inside only ...

  • Angela Bello
    on Oct 21, 2012

    Boxelders and they do fly. We are dealing with them this year too. They don't hurt anything but are definately annoying!

  • @angela bellow - Yikes! They fly too! Now I'm more determined than ever to get them out of my house! They keep sneaking inside ...

  • Elma Bacon-Peters
    on Oct 21, 2012

    They appear to be "box elder bugs". They are totally harmless.

  • Some trivia for you. Box elder trees are a maple species. In places where they are the only maple that grows, they have been used to make maple syrup... though not nearly as productive as sugar maple. The box elder trees are illegal to plant in some places, because people find the box elder bugs annoying. These are silly laws, since the bugs will shack up in any maple or ash, if you deny them box elder trees. Box elder wood can be a dazzling combination of white, black and red wood. I have seen some gorgeous bowls turned out of box elder wood.

  • Thanks @Brian Campbell, Basswood Artisan Carpentry for that box elder trivia!

  • Phy106002
    on Oct 21, 2012

    I,m glad I read about the bugs and found out they are harmlessI would have called an extermator thinking the worse things about them.You probably saved me lots of money.

  • Designs by BSB
    on Oct 21, 2012

    I know this bug all too well. Harmless, but the most annoying ever! We had them bad at our last house -- we kept screens on our windows and they would crawl thru the cracks and die by the hundreds there. Several got inside through cracks and I tired my best to think of them as friendly.. but sorry - bugs are bad ! LOL Finally figured out which trees they were feeding off and my husband bought an insecticide sprayed the trees and the south side of our home (they only rest on the south/warm side of the house in the fall and winter). Our pest guy said to try borax soap, but in the end after trying that and a few others.. the only thing that worked 100% was "Triazicide Insect Killer" by Spectracide. This after me treating mulch... ripping out shrubs and cussing at anything any everything that I thought was the cause! haha Those buggers were invaders of another kind! Soooo happy to now live in a house that has no maple trees nearby!

  • Jeanine Wester
    on Oct 22, 2012

    Ugh yes! They are everywhere and I don't remember them from past years. Glad to know they don't bite. I'm not pleased that they seem to find a way in through our old windows though...

  • Jenny@birdsandsoap
    on Oct 22, 2012

    We have these here too! They have invaded our neck of the woods since spring. They are E-V-E-R-Y-WHERE! We have sprayed and killed a ton in our detached garage. They even get in the house somehow. I've lived in my home 9 years and have NEVER seen them until this year. It's like a plague. There are lots of old Elder trees in our town, so that may be why this population is out of control...but why this year, I'm wondering? My neighbor said they have a foul odor when you squish them and they said they have been stung? No bites here, just super annoyed. I have bug carcases everywhere. gross!

  • Rachel Trim
    on Oct 22, 2012

    We call them Alder bugs here in Utah. They are especially bad this year I don't exactly know why, but they are harmless just annoying.

  • Eileen Dougherty
    on Oct 22, 2012

    Box Elder bugs, they are common this time of year.

  • Ann S
    on Oct 22, 2012

    Yes they come every yr at this time, but I didn't know what they where until last wk, for one was on the wall at work & asked one of the guys. I told him I was out on the landing dock on break & had a really colorful tie die shirt on & it was like they were attracted to me, I told Chris at work & it was driving me crazy. He laughed & told they were harmless but still didn't want them on me. lol

  • Trish Weinstein
    on Oct 25, 2012

    They are box elder bugs ! And it doesn't matter if you have a box elder tree nearby or not, they just show up :(

  • They are boxelder/maple/ash bugs. :)

  • Bev Ritch
    on Jan 5, 2013

    The first time I saw these bugs was crazy freaky. I lived in WA state and opened my silverware drawer and saw one dash away. I instantly thought it was a cockroach. I put all my dishes, pots n pans, silverware etc in plastic storage totes stacked up in my kitchen for a looong time. I took one of the bugs to the local nursery and they could not identify it, although they said it was harmless and not a cockraoch, thank goodness. Either way, my kitchen stayed in totes, because after all, who wants to eat off of things that bugs have crawled on. Then I moved and found them at he new house too. This house was built a bit better so dished came out of totes and I was told they were some kind of 'grass bug'. Nice to finally know what they really are!

  • Nathy Lavoie
    on Jan 13, 2013

    Last summer we had an epidemic here in Luskville, Quebec. Hope they won't be around next summer.

  • TJ
    on Jul 9, 2013

    As everyone has said, these boxelder bugs are harmless but very annoying. One really bad year, a friend of mine found the base of some trees literally covered with these. He was told to pour boiling water on them, which he did. It got rid of them for that year. Don't know why, just that it worked. good luck. Now Rose Chafers are another issue LOL

  • Peg
    on Jul 10, 2013

    You guys have those, we have the invasion of the "stink" bugs. The come inside during the winter and make a mess!

  • Magpye
    on Jul 29, 2013

    Out here we call those alder bugs.

  • Marilyn
    on Jul 31, 2013

    They look just like boxelder bugs. I have them here and had them in Yakima. Mine here in Spokane must of moved on as i haven't seen any so far this year. I have lots of birds though that might be taking care of them.

  • D Stepp
    on Aug 24, 2013

    We had a bout with these boxelder bugs some time ago and I was able to kill them with soapy water in a spray bottle. Just a little dish liquid and water. You have to keep using it since they leave little red eggs on everything that will hatch and must but dealt with too. Eventually the weather took care of them for us but through that entire summer I carried my soapy water spray bottle everywhere.

  • Norma Alcorn
    on Mar 7, 2014

    We have them to have no ideal what they are but there everywere.

  • Linda Green
    on Mar 8, 2014

    The box elder bugs are notorious for hiding near warm walls and fences or anywhere there are leaves leftover from the previous year. The larva looks like little red versions of the adults. The safest way to get rid of them is to mix about 2 tablespoons of lemon dishwashing liquid in a sprayer and spray them directly. Spray it directly on them as this is the only way to kill them. The soap doesn't hurt the plants or people either. I rarely use chemicals and am careful to only spray the harmful bugs. You have to continue to spray until you can't see any bugs throughout the season.

  • Carol T
    on Aug 25, 2014

    Just don't squash them on your walls or furniture... they leave a red residue.....soapy water... good luck! We ended up with Terminex to spray the house....Yuk!

  • UpState
    on May 26, 2015

    I have never seen them....anywhere. What should we be concerned about them ? They just 'show up' ???

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